Last post, I preached about remaining positive despite your plights, and my righteous opinion seems to have come back to test us. While Drew has made great strides towards recovering from surgery and accomplishing new awesome thing in the walking arena, his behavior has been very challenging. We aren’t sure what’s causing the outbursts of temper tantrums during physical therapy, but I do know that if things keep up the way they have been, I’m going to go out of my flippin’ mind.
Drew has always been head-strong and independent, and I’ve always credited that for how capable Drew has been despite his challenges, but his opinions and stubbornness is starting to get in the way. It always starts with the most insignificant event: unbuckling a strap or disappointment with not going to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. And, at this one event that we would never expect such a raging outburst, Drew completely loses his cool, refuses to cooperate, defies instructions, whines, cries and no amount of consoling, negotiating, compromising, or threatening will bring him out of his funk and we spend the entire hour of physical therapy butting heads. It’s a battle of the wills and we are all bound and determine to come out the winner.
My parenting style is to supportive, loving and comforting while still maintaining an air of authority, respect and discipline. It doesn’t help to baby a kid who is defying an adult’s instructions. You must demand respect and encourage cooperation with those trying to help. But, with Drew’s consistent and intolerable behavior, I have had to be very stern with him and a few times he’s lost his rights to the TV for entire days and spend more time in time out than has been his average. After one particularly stressful hour of physical therapy in which I had to remove Drew from the physical therapy gym to have a very stern conversation laden with frustration, disappointment, and warnings, we went home with both of us giving the other the silent treatment. The whole time I’m frustrated with Drew because he’s come so far to give up now, it makes me angry he can be so disrespectful to those that love him the most (or adults in general really), and for the simple fact that this is Drew’s life: pain, physical labor, recovery, etc. We shouldn’t be spending every day in a physical therapy gym regaining strength and range of motion. We should be at the park on the jungle gym. We should be shopping at the mall. Or, going to soccer practice. Or, riding bikes. But, here we are with our daily routines of extensive stretching and exercise.
Then, it’s hard to really hold Drew’s rejection of these boring and difficult therapies because, after all, he’s FIVE. He’s not designed to tolerate this level of responsibility. Of course he’s going to reject all of this physical trauma. He’s spent over a year of his life in pain and doing what he can to get better. He’s 5. To a 5-year old this must seem like an eternity. He must feel like it’s never going to end. It’s hard to remain confident in my own stance of demanding good work and positive attitude. Am I being unreasonable in my expectations of him? Am I being too hard on him?
On the other hand, I can’t just allow him to not be respectful to adults and certainly not encourage giving up or mediocre effort. Not after all that we’ve gone through after going through all of this. If he doesn’t work hard, then all of the pain and trauma was for not. But, Drew is five so naturally he’s not able to see the big picture yet. But, it’s getting harder and harder to keep moving forward on this tough road.
We’re starting to experiment with our approach. Both Daddy and I usually go together with Drew to therapy as we both want to support Drew on this journey. Drew has never acted this way when it’s just me so lately we’ve decided to each take a turn taking him alone to see if his behavior changes when it’s one of us. We’ve even decided to try dropping him off and leaving the room for him to participate in his therapy independently. So far, the last two sessions Drew’s behavior has dramatically improved during each of my and Nathan’s turn escorting him out there so I don’t think it’s one of us. Maybe it’s just a bad day that he’s having during the times of emotional breakdowns. I wish I could pinpoint what was causing it because I cannot go on like that. At this rate, I’m going to die of stress-related heart disease before 40. Or, spend thousands of dollars in therapy to get my sanity back.
Complaints aside, Drew is fine. He’s enjoying school and I’m excited that Drew is going to get more one-one assistance at school to help alleviate some of the difficulties his physical limitations is causing him. Outside of therapy, he’s still as happy and active as ever. He’s still requesting to walk wherever he goes, a request we oblige as often as possible.
We are just two days away from our return trip to Dr. Paley’s down in West Palm Beach, just in time for a friggin’ tropical storm to hit southern Florida so our plans of a trip to the beach sound like they may not happen. We are excited to see the area again and certainly excited to see what happens and what is said of Drew’s progress and future. We were graciously granted a round-trip flight on Southwest Airlines by Miracle Flights, an non-profit organization that provide financed flights for ill children and their parents to medical centers across the country for proper medical care. It helps so much to not have to drive 17 hours in order to avoid excessive airline fees. Thank you sooooooooooo much to Miracle Flights. I can’t think of a better organization to help when things are so hard for us families who have to go to such lengths for our children. Be sure to check out their Facebook page in the near future. They will be featuring Drew!